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Events from History: 15 April 2019

Flames Over Paris: The Notre Dame Cathedral Fire

On April 15, 2019, a catastrophic fire engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral, one of Paris’s most iconic and historical landmarks, sending shockwaves around the world. The blaze began in the early evening, with the first alarm sounding at 6:20 PM, but was initially dismissed due to a miscommunication. It wasn’t until a second alarm went off at 6:43 PM that the magnitude of the situation was realised. Firefighters battled the inferno, which rapidly consumed the cathedral’s roof and caused its iconic spire to collapse at 7:50 PM, a heartbreaking moment broadcast live to a global audience. The fire raged on, threatening the very survival of the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece and centuries of history, art, and architecture.

Miraculously, thanks to the valiant efforts of the Paris Fire Brigade, the structure’s central stone vaults held firm, and its two bell towers were saved, averting what could have been total destruction. By the early hours of April 16, the fire was declared under control. The world breathed a sigh of relief as it was reported that much of the artwork and religious relics, including the Crown of Thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ, had been saved. The fire sparked an immediate outpouring of grief and solidarity and led to a massive fundraising campaign, amassing pledges worth hundreds of millions of euros for the cathedral’s restoration. This event has since stood as a powerful testament to the resilience of cultural heritage in the face of calamity, highlighting the universal value of preserving our global historical landmarks.

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